DMV for Seniors — A Great Idea by
(289 Stories)

Prompted By The DMV

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My granddaughter passed with ease

Note: I apologize for my spotty postings and comments on Retro. I have been experiencing health problems lately and was in hospital last week. My health is improving but I need to save my energy for healing. I hope to continue writing on prompts that are new for me and about which I have something to contribute.

Then came the part I was dreading. Where do I go to wait for my road test?

Illinois was one of the few states that required seniors to take a road test when renewing their driver’s license. This stuck terror in the hearts for people I know who are over 75, including me. Would I have to back up in a straight line? Parallel park? Filled with trepidation, I made a “senior” appointment at the DMV, which meant I wouldn’t have to stand in line with nervous 16-year-olds. After taking my photo, I was seated in the section for old folks. I had already filled out most of the information online and had a letter from my eye doctor stating my driving vision was fine. Then came the call I dreaded, “Next.”

I had already scoped out the clerks and there was only one who seemed to be unpleasant. Of course, he ended up being mine. He grumbled about how my filling things out online made his job harder, but I had all of the required paperwork with me, so he passed me. Then came the part I was dreading. Where do I go to wait for my road test?

You don’t have to take it. What? Seems that since COVID had shut everything down, someone decided there weren’t enough employees to do the road tests. So, I was granted a reprieve until age 79.

But wait. Things got even better. Statistically it seems seniors have fewer accidents than any other age group. Perhaps that’s why most states don’t bother with the road tests after 16-year-olds pass theirs. And some kind soul at the state DMV decided to try an experiment – a separate seniors-only facility. And one of the two pilot sites is located in my city of Evanston. When my husband went, not only did he not have to take the road test, but the place was totally user friendly. Someone guided people to the right room in City Hall and pointed out the handicap entrance if needed. The people were super-helpful and accommodating. No computer pre-registration was necessary. He was finished in 15 minutes.

Most of the time, things are harder for older people. For example, the Continuing Education at Northwestern University hired a new vendor for online registration that turned the process into a labyrinth for the very age group it serves. Former log-ins were no longer recognized. Changing passwords, a requirement, was very difficult. It took me hours to complete the process and many “lifelong learners” could not manage the new system. So, when someone actually thinks about what seniors need and makes it user-friendly, I’m very grateful. Bravo to the Illinois DMV!

Profile photo of Laurie Levy Laurie Levy
Boomer. Educator. Advocate. Eclectic topics: grandkids, special needs, values, aging, loss, & whatever. Author: Terribly Strange and Wonderfully Real.

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Characterizations: been there, funny, moving, well written


  1. Betsy Pfau says:

    Dear friend, I am sorry and concerned to learn that you have had health problems. I hope you regain your strength and well-being quickly!

    In theory, I understand the state’s concern with senior drivers, though the age seems some low to me (maybe over 80?). Certainly my eyesight isn’t what it used to, so I try to only drive familiar roads after dark. I think the state also may not take into consideration all the tools now available on many/most cars in terms of backup camera, sensors and the like (I do understand that not everyone has those on their cars, but increasingly they will), and these features compensate for lots of things (they help me tremendously).

    Your description of what your husband went through (despite the fear), sounds reasonable.

    I agree wholeheartedly with your aggravation as you describe the new login process for the Life Long Learning classes. It is absurd that the vendor never considered the audience and made things so difficult. I hope you called someone and gave them a piece of your mind!

    • Laurie Levy says:

      I hope you are healing well too, Betsy. Pain takes over your mind and pushes creativity out, at least for now. I did call the Northwestern box office for help and was told to come in. Can’t do that now, obviously. He was a Gen X guy who could have cared less about my battle with the computer or the fact that they lost the zoom half of their audience. Guess he thinks he will never be old!

  2. Laurie, so sorry to hear of your recent hospitalization , please heal well and quick!

    A DMV for seniors does indeed sound like a great idea!

  3. Khati Hendry says:

    This turned out to be a very positive story about addressing the needs of seniors appropriately–yay! The barriers of online registration and mandatory computer use are so vexing and unnecessary. I hope more states follow Illinois’ lead. On another note, I am sorry to hear about your health concerns, and hope you are able to continue doing what you love–including Retrospect–as much as possible. You have been a very faithful contributor and commentator and have enriched all of us with that. Much love to you.

  4. Before reading your story, I drew my own interpretation, simply by looking at the title and the Featured Photo (without reading the caption.) Ok, I saw, the state of Indiana (my original home state) is placing stylishly dressed and fetching young women as “welcome guides” to help out older folks as we arrive with some trepidation to navigate the challenges of the DMV? Wow! That would indeed by “DMV for Seniors–A great idea!” as your title suggests.

    Well, OK, so I missed the point. I do like what Illinois is doing; it sounds terrific. And if Indiana wants to one-up them I know exactly how they could accomplish that!

    • Laurie Levy says:

      I used my granddaughter’s picture because she is much cuter than I am. Also, since there were no iPhones when I got my license at 16 and I didn’t take any selfies last time I was at the DMV, I went with future generations of drivers.

  5. Dave Ventre says:

    I did love the COVID license extensions!
    And Northwestern, my employer, has a bad habit of constantly changing software systems to ones that are, at best, merely different, and usually worse. I suspect that a company called “PeopleSoft” has some nasty “komprimat” of NU purchasing deciders because their programmers are sadists.

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